The Last Bit of Summer

Pat på vei langs High Divide

Pat på vei opp langs Bridge Creek

Mosegrodd granskog

Pat i leiren ved Appleton Pass

På vei langs High Divide. I bakgrunnen Mount Olympus (2432 m)

Pat plukker blåbær langs Bridge Creek

Solen står opp over leiren vår ved Lunch Lake

As the summer on the Northern hemisphere slowly turns into autumn, I have changed my location from Seattle, USA to Bergen, Norway, as I mentioned I would do last week. However, as I also mentioned last week, I had a last backpacker trip in the vicinities of Seattle before flying across half the globe.

This time we were exploring the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle, more specifically the area around the High Divide, the ridge that separates north from south and west from south on the peninsula.

The Olympic Peninsula is a rainy place, so much that the forest surrounding the mountains is a so-called temperate rain forest. However, those four days we were hiking around the Hide Divide, the weather showed itself from its best side. We had a couple of unusually clear and sunny days. Almost every day we would have a view of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in the region, not something that happens most days in the region.

Needless to say it was a gorgeous trip, but also challenging. When you carry about 50 pounds on your back, hike maybe 10 miles one day, while starting out with a 2500 steep descent, only to continue with needing to climb 3000 feet again, it’s indeed quite demanding. However, by the end of the four days, you are really in good shape!

The photos following this post were all taking during this trip.

Facts about the photos: All the photos were taken with my Canon Eos 5D with either a 16-35 mm lens or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos have been processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Up in the High Mountain

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Pat på vei opp mot Mount Baker

Pat og Ted på toppen av Hannegan Peak (1886 m)

Pat i leiren under Hannegan Pass

På toppen av Copper Ridge ved observasjonstårnet

Pat på vei opp gjennom Hannagan Valley

As I wrote a few weeks ago in my post Being Flexible, I have enjoyed the possibility to get out in Mother Nature this summer. Moreover, as I wrote then, I had just been back from a week backpacking in Northern Cascades in Washington State, USA. The photos included in this post are but a few impressions from the hike we did across Copper Ridge. We had some tremendous days in the national park close to the border of Canada.

Last week I was out backpacking again. This time we went to the Olympic Peninsula, also in the state of Washington. This is quite a different landscape, mountainous, too, but the foothills are covered with a temperature rainforest. This kind of forest is magically, and so are the mountains protruding above the rainforest. I will get back with photos from this trip when I have gotten a chance to process them.

In the meantime, and as this posted is being published, I am on my way back to Europe, first to my hometown Bergen, Norway and then about a month later off to teach a photo workshop in Prague. It’s going to be quite a busy time, but I usually thrive under much work. See you soon again. Hopefully, you will also have a chance to get out in Mother Nature these days.

Facts about the photos: All the photos were taken with my Canon Eos 5D with either a 16-35 mm lens or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos have been processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Last Week’s Instagram

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Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: It was captured with my Lumix LX-100 in an underwater housing with the lens sett at 10,9 mm (the equivalent of 24 mm full frame lens), exposure at 1/800 s and f/5.6. The photo was then transferred to my cell phone and processed in Photoshop Express.

Being Flexible

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Sometimes unforeseen circumstances come crushing down and put an end to something we may have planned for a while. There are two ways to deal with them. Either we give up in disappointment or we turn ourselves around, improvise and make the best out of the new situation. I believe creative people would have an easy choice. They are improvising all the time, looking for possibilities, rather than limitations. Being creative means creating something new out of whatever is available.

The week before last, my love one and I were supposed to go for a six days backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a trail that follows the mountain range along the west coast of the Americas, from Canada into Mexico. The whole trail obviously isn’t possible to do in six days (we would rather talk about months then), but we were heading for a minor part of the trail along the Cascades just east of Seattle.

Or so we thought. When we passed by the ranger station nearby our trail head to get some final information before heading out in the wilderness we were startled by what they could tell us. The whole area was closed down because of a big wildfire. There was simply no way we could proceed with our plan.

After the initial moment of feeling paralyzed, we started to look at maps and books we could find at the ranger station to search for alternatives that could be just as enticing as the trip we had planned. After some back and forth we ended up choosing an area close to Mount Baker, one of the most characteristic mountains in the state of Washington.

It was another three to four ours drive to get from where we were. So when we finally reached the nearest small town, Glacier, the day was more or less gone—we had already lost the first day of what was suppose to be our six days hiking trip in the mountain. More so, we found out next day, we would have to wait even one more day before we could hit the new trail. We wanted to do something called the Copper Ridge loop. The problem is, it’s very popular and it’s situated within North Cascades National Park. The latter means all camp sites are strictly regulated and you need a permit to camp anywhere in the park—a specific permit for each camp site and the date. Nothing was available before the second day. So what should have been a six days backpacking trip finally ended up being only four days.

However—and of course—we didn’t just do nothing until we finally could get going. The same evening we arrived to Glacier, we drove up past Mount Baker ski area to a plateau between the two gorgeous mountains of Baker and Shukshan. The sun was setting and it was a gorgeous moment for both of us. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. The pictures accompanying this post are all from that evening at the so-called Artist Point.

It was a gorgeous evening and for a photographer an amazing moment, particularly after the sun had gone behind the mountains. Part of what made the evening so beautiful and colourful were clouds lining up in the horizon, spreading the last minutes of sunshine across the sky.

Of course, those clouds were also a forecast for the rain to come next day. We have never been stopped by rain, though, so the second day we hiked up to the glacier tipping down from the peak of Mount Baker. As any of you who follow Adrian «Chillbrook» and his blog know, bad weather is god weather for photographers. To make it short, we had another great day. When we finally got on the trail for the backpacking trip, the sun returned and we had another couple of gorgeous days—in a different way. I’ll get back with pictures from this hike as soon as I have had a chance to process them.

In the end, we had just as fantastic six days as we probably would have had if we had been able to stick to our original plan. As long as one doesn’t give in, there are always possibilities…

When was the last time you had to improvise and come up with an alternative plan in an incident of a moment? I would love to hear your story.

Facts about the photos: All the photos were taken with my Canon Eos 5D with either a 16-35 mm lens or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos have been processed in Lightroom and nothing else.

Last Week’s Instagram

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Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: It was captured with a my Canon 5D with a 24-105 mm lens sett at 70 mm, 1/160 s and f/22, transferred to my cell phone and then processed in Snapseed with the filter Drama. I finally use the Kelvin frame from Instagram.

When the Livin’ Is Easy

Pat og Jenny på toppen av Mount Dickerman

Utsikten over dalen på vei opp mot Mount Dickerman

Summertime. Life does indeed feel very easy. I am a guy who undoubtedly are very fond of all different seasons and the changing between the seasons. I enjoy autumn, winter, spring and summer equally much. Still, there is something special about summertime. Not so much because of the season itself, but rather what it entails—at least for me.

It comes down to the kind of occupation I have. I work in the media business, and summer is generally a slow period. Papers and magazine run on slow burners. Nothing much of importance happens in the news. Stories are simply less interesting. In Norway (where I am from) we call it cucumber time, since summer is the time when all the stories about cucumbers have a chance to be published. For me it means less work and fewer assignments. Moreover, I have been so lucky to be able to shift my schedules around so I don’t need to make much money during the summer—out of necessity and just as much out of pure delight.

Summertime is the time when I can do all the things I otherwise never get a chance to do. Tasks that don’t bring bread on the table—at least not within a foreseeable future. Of course, I get to relax more, too, but I am really not the kind of guy to sit still for very long. Rather I have too many balls in the air—and I enjoy it, the more the better.

This summer I am finally finishing a novel I have been working on for quite a few years. I am developing a new online photo workshop and I am also putting together a new eBook about photography. All very exciting and fun to do. There is nothing like sitting outside on a warm summer evening and be working on your computer without any demands or stress. Only my own things.

In addition, summertime is the period when I have time to enjoy much more outdoor life, for the same reasons as already mentioned. I spend as much time as possible, either hiking, biking, kayaking, running, rollerblading or whatever it is I feel like doing. In fact, by the time this post is out, I will be backpacking a week along the Pacific Crest Trail in the state of Washington, USA. Furthermore, the photos posted here were taken last week when I hiked to the top of Mount Dickerman in the North Cascades.

Summertime is indeed when the livin’ is easy. When; one of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing. And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky.

How is summertime for you? Do you get a chance to spread your wings?

Pat og Jenny på toppen av Mount Dickerman

Jenny på toppen av Mount Dickerman

På vei gjennom den høyreiste skogen i lavere deler av Mount Dickerman

Controlling the Flash

Tivolivakt ved Coney Island, Brooklyn

Do you want to have full control of the flash? Here comes an explanation that will get you on the way to really be able to master the use of flash—at least flash mounted on the camera. There is of course a lot more to flash photography, but that will have to way to another time—and many more posts. This tip here will hopefully without too much work help you understand how you can control the flash in some ways.

Before we start, as you may know; in October last year I started what I called a new instalment for me. On and off I wanted to show and write about simple tips, tips that can improve anyone’s photography. I have written about using long shutter speed to make different photos, I have talked about moving close to the subject to create relationships and I have mentioned how you can using natural reflections—such as sunshine reflected from the streets in through doors—to create beautiful light in your photos.

Alas, I have also had a couple of posts about how to get most out of the camera-mounted flash or the built-in flash on compact cameras. It’s time to take the flash one step further. As written in previous posts you can adjust the amount of flash that is emitted by dialling up or down the flash compensation dial. At the same time you can also adjust the general exposure by the exposure compensation dial where you can make the picture darker or lighter by increments of ⅓ or ½ exposure values (E.V.). The latter will influence both the exposure of the available light as well as the exposure by the flash.

Now this means that you can actually adjust the ratio between the available light and the flash light and thus fine-tune your exposure. This may sound a little complicated, but hopefully it is not. Try to think—when using a combination of both available light and flash—that you are taken two images at once, one with available light and the other with the flash. These two images are then superimposed upon each other (of course this all happens as one exposure in the camera. What I am writing here is just to create a visual image in order to understand how the camera is dealing with the combination of available light and flash).

The flash light has a limited range and will only affect objects closer than one and half to three meters (or yards) away from the flash head depending on the maximum emitted light possible from the flash. The available light, on the other hand, will expose everything within the frame, up front and in the background. Now let’s go back to this idea of two different exposures superimposed upon each other. First the camera takes a photo with the available light and then one, in which it adds the flash (again this is not how it actually happens; it all happens in one take, naturally). Now if the exposure by the available light is correct and makes a perfectly exposed photo, then when you add a flash on top of this the objects that are close enough to be reached by the light from the flash will be overexpose. The rest, further away, will still be perfectly exposed (only by the available light). To compensate for this the camera needs to underexpose the available light on whatever is reached by the light from the flash. However, the camera cannot do this partially, thus everything will be underexposed in the first photo taken only by the available light. And then when you now add the flash, those objects in the reach of the flash will get added light and thus (if everything is correctly added) be properly exposed while the background will be somewhat underexposed—which is generally quit OK.

This is usually done automatically by the camera, and can be used in different ways as I wrote in the previous posts about flash photography.

Now I want to raise the stakes. So far I haven’t been dealing with situations where the available light is different in different parts of the scene. Particularly when the foreground is dark and the background is well illuminated, the use of flash can improve the photo significantly. In this case you can get around the problem by thinking that the background is going to be exposed only by the available light hitting it while the foreground is illuminated by only the flash.

You work it out this way: Figure out the correct exposure for the background. In many ways setting the camera to Manual exposure mode is the simplest in this case, but if don’t want to I suggest selecting Aperture Priority mode (if you have a compact camera set the mode to Slow Sync). You may have to underexpose the subject since the foreground is so dark and will influence the cameras evaluation for a suggested exposure. Maybe start with dialling in –1 E.V. At this point you have a background that is exposed as you want to.

Now it’s time to add the flash. Turn it on. Give it a try without any compensation. Since the foreground is dark, it might be just the perfect exposure. If you are not quite happy with the exposure from the flash, just dial up or down the flash compensation dial till you have what you want. One thing to keep in mind: Sometimes when you are in Aperture Priority mode and turn on the flash the camera will automatically underexpose the general exposure. In this case you will have to compensate for this, by making the available light brighter. For instance, you may have to go from –1 E.V to no compensation at all—or even more like +⅓ E.V. However, since this compensation also will affects the exposure of the light from the flash, you have to do an equal amount of compensation on the flash, but the opposite way. So in the example above, you will either need to set the flash to –1 E.V. or -1⅓ E.V.

The photo above is an example in which I used this technique. I used the available light to expose the background and the sky and then used a flash to light the guy in front. (By the way it’s a photo I have shown before on this blog).

If you have any questions to this technique, please don’t hesitate to ask in comments below. I will answer to the best of my abilities.

For the previous posts on flash photography, please look up: Flash Away the Shadows, A Flashy Look and Flash for the Night.

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Canon T90 camera (with analogue film) and a 24 mm lens. It was captured at ½ a second and f/2.8 (set to expose the background as I wanted it). Flash was added and set to -⅓ E.V. No tripod. Finally the photo was scanned and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

A Flashy Look

Using an on-camera flash often feels difficult to master, whether it’s with a built-in flash or one mounted in the hot shoe on top of the camera. The problem is simply the size of the light source itself (very small if we don’t use some devices to make it bigger such as reflectors or umbrellas) as well as the direction of the light, close to and following the axis of the lens.

Nevertheless there are easy ways to use an on-camera flash with amazing results. Paradoxically enough, it often means not using a flash when you think you should use it (for instance when it’s dark), but rather when you don’t need to but can add some stunning effect by using it. Such was the case I showed in the post Flash Away the Shadows a couple of months ago. And today I will show you another easy way to use the flash for a special effect.

This is a good way to increase both saturation and contrast for instance when shooting during an overcast day. In addition this method puts increased attention to the main subject. So when you need something like this, you might consider this way of using the on-camera flash for a special effect. In addition – and best of all – it’s very easy to do.

Simply mount the flash on the camera and turn it or or turn on the built-in flash if that’s what you have. On more advanced cameras, usually the ones without a built-in flash, I recommend turning the exposure mode to Aperture Priority, that is you choose an aperture suitable for your subject and the depth of field you would like to have, and the camera will automatically choose a correct shutter speed. You may also choose Shutter Priority, but then you will have to make sure the exposure will be within the range of what the aperture is capable of. As a general rule, don’t chose Program mode as this often – and normally – will set the camera to the synchronization speed for the shutter, and thus destroy what you try to accomplish with this effect.

On a point-and-shoot camera, you will usually set the camera for slow sync. That’s it. The rest you let the camera handle. If you can compensate the flash light, make sure flash adjustment is set to 0, that is neither over nor under exposed.

What happens is that the camera automatically adjusts for the added flash light so the main subject – or the subject that is lit up by the flash – will be exposed correctly. On the other hand, the rest of what is within the frame, further away and not lit up by the flash will be underexposed. The effect, as I mentioned earlier, is increased attention to the main subject as well as increased saturation and contrast.

If you want to understand what actually happens, think of it as two exposures happening at the same time. One exposure is by the flash while the other exposure is by available light or the natural light. Where both flash light and available light lit the subject there will be too much light, since one is added to the other. Thus the camera compensates for this overexposure. It does so by choosing a faster shutter speed (if you have put the exposure mode on Aperture Priority). Changing the shutter speed doesn’t affect the flash, but a faster shutter speed will make the available light darker. So where the flash doesn’t light the subject, the result is a darker exposure.

This much said, you don’t need to understand the underlying and technical function of the camera to make use of the effect. But remember this is for daylight use, not when it’s dark. I used effect for the photo accompanying this post. It’s a photo shot during the celebration of Puerto Rican Day in New York.

Retreating into the Mountains

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Last week I got back from a ten days trip exploring different mountain areas and the countryside in the north-western-most States of USA, that is Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. This was not a photo trip as such but a holiday with my love one. However, being a passionate photographer I don’t stop photographing. Here are but a few photos from the trip. At the same time I want to thank you my blog reader for the patience over the last couple of weeks. I have simply been complete off any communication with the world. I appreciate all the comments you have posted while I have been away, and I will get back to you all. Furthermore I hope you have enjoyed the summer or the season wherever you may be.